PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Revolutionary, innovative and made right here in Pennsylvania. A new coronavirus-killing face covering hopes to change the way we think about disposable masks.

Ramshield, Inc., a company based in Exton, Pennsylvania, created the AVF Shield, but it only works because of a one-of-a-kind foam invented at Bergad Specialty Foams in Armstrong County.

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“Many of our customers will come to us looking for a material that doesn’t exist,” said Paul Bergad, owner of Bergad’s Specialty Foams.

Bergard’s company invents and produces foams for all kinds of things from wheelchair cushions to surgical pads to custom cooling foam for the ear-pieces of headphones.

So when the folks at Ramshield called about making a brand-new face shield, Bergad embraced the challenge.

“They needed a material they could actually wet and place against their fabric and it would stay wet. The material we developed for them is able to stay wet for eight to ten hours without having to re-wet the mask”, said Bergad.

The AVF Shield needs that wet foam to keep an electrical charge in the mask flowing.

If the foam dries out, it stops working.

“Once this gets wet with saline or water, it activates the battery within the fabric. It’s not a high-voltage fabric. It’s a very low but measurable voltage, but it’s enough to kill bacteria,” said Bergad.

But how does fabric create electricity?

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“So there’s two very different metals in here. The dots in the fabric are similar to what’s in a battery, but not hazardous. And instead of using an acid, they use water or saline solution as the electrolyte”, Bergad explained.

Another unique thing about this mask is that they say it offers two-way protection, killing COVID-19 both on the way into or out of the mask.

That feature is especially appealing to leaders at Armstrong Center for Medicine and Health in Kittanning.

“We would love to have at least one for all of our staff because then they can wear them in all of the critical areas, as well as the routine areas like the medical-surgical units, the skilled nursing units, places like that,” said Dr. Kayla Lee, ACMH’s Director of Operational Excellence.

Dr. Lee says the hospital’s 1,000 employees already wear Bergad’s traditional face shield, and they’re now eager to get the AVF Shield.

“I hope we’re on the top of their list because our staff appreciate it more than anything. Being a rural community hospital, we don’t have all of the benefits as the large health systems, but we do have that small community feel,” said Lee.

And it’s that sense of community that inspires Bergad to keep giving back.

“It’s more satisfying than some of the big developments that we have come out with because when you’re out there and you see the product and you see it helping people, you know it’s needed. It really doesn’t mean anything to us to have any recognition whatsoever. We want to develop, and we want to help,” said Bergad.

The AVF Shield costs $39. It’s washable and reusable. The masks are expected to be available to the public in the coming weeks.

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In the meantime, you can pre-order the masks at Ramshield Inc’s website.

Meghan Schiller